What if an earthquake happens when you’re at work?

Photo credit: American Red Cross Oregon Trail Chapter on Flickr

It was a big day for earthquake awareness in BC yesterday during the Great British Columbia ShakeOut – the largest earthquake drill in Canadian history. Thousands of people practised “drop, cover, and hold on” for two minutes at 10 a.m., and if you took part, I’d love to hear about it.

I asked Scott Larsen how he and his colleagues at Krasicki & Ward Emergency Preparedness help people prepare for earthquakes at work. I first met him at the CSSE/NAOSH awards and was interested to hear what they advise.

“Every person’s plan might be a little different,” Scott says. “People don’t necessarily need to go out and get anything fancy but they need to start with their daily routine and ask: ‘Okay what do I do every day? What do I need?’”

72-hour survival kit for 5 people. Photo from the Krasicki & Ward website

Earthquake kits for stranded workers

Here in BC, companies are not required to buy earthquake supplies for their staff. But people should be prepared because they could be stuck at work for a few days if nearby bridges and roads are destroyed. Scott says some employers offer earthquake kits that workers can pay for in monthly payroll deductions. These kits – sold by Krasicki & Ward and others – contain flat packs of water, condensed food, first aid supplies, etc.

Based on my conversation with Scott, I’ve compiled six tips for earthquake prep at work:

1) Look at the earthquake preparedness information on your municipality’s website.

2) Store heavy books on bottom shelves so they won’t fall on you.

3) Keep a spare supply of critical medications with you, in case you can’t get home or go to a pharmacy.

4) Make sure you have shoes you can wear to evacuate the building. Keep a pair of boots handy if you wear pumps or dress shoes.

5) Keep cash with you in case ATMs stop working.

6) If you are a parent, make sure you have a plan for your kids and who will pick them up.

Of course we will hope it never happens – but if it does, we’ll be as ready as we can. I’ve always liked this statement of optimism: “Plan for the worst, hope for the best.”


One thought on “What if an earthquake happens when you’re at work?

  1. LeahStoltz

    My son, Jordan (9) and I did our Great shakeout today!
    We’re homeschoolers and I work at home, so for us, it was about what to do in our home. As you said above, it’s different for everyone, it’s simply about being prepared, not how you prepare to prepare! lol.

    The first thing I did was talk about the word Prepared. What does it mean? It doesn’t mean we think an earthquake will happen tomorrow. It means instead of living in fear of what might happen, we’re preparing so in the chance something does happen, we’ll have LESS fear. My son, tends to obsess sometimes, and as he has predicted the last 2 quakes we had I really wanted to make sure he knew we weren’t hoping/planning/expecting any time soon.

    We ran off some printed material – drop/cover/hold. read thru it, the do’s and don’t. then we went over the emergency kit list, talked about how we need enough for a few days, and why. We plan to put one together next week. We went thru each room of our house and decided together what would be the safest place to drop/cover/hold. what are the dangers in each room, if any, that we need to avoid, and what can we do to change a room to make it safer?

    I’m very glad we did this drill. Low key, calm, prepardeness!
    thanks always for your posts!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *